SMART Heroes to graduate veterans into workforce

Program celebrated seventh class, launched second year Oct. 22

Thirteen members of the United States military graduated as the seventh class of the SMART Heroes program Oct. 22 at the Western Washington Sheet Metal training center, located at 2725 Williamson Place, Suite 100, in DuPont, Washington.

The class was made up of 12 current or recently discharged members of the military with the Army, Navy and Marines represented.

They are Spc. Tyler Bruno, Army; Spc. Matthew Conallen, Army; Sgt. Mark Flowers, Army; Staff Sgt. Josue Gastelum, Army; Spc. Jonathan Gibson, Army; Seaman Nathaniel Gonce, Navy; Sgt. Cassandre Lunsford, Army; Spc. Nathan Mueller, Army; Spc. Dale Schrenckengost, Army; Spc. Stephen Sheeter, Army; Sgt. Benjamin Snyder, Army; Lance Cpl. Daniel Stickney, Marines; and Sgt. Israel Umana, Army.

In order to graduate, veterans completed a seven-week course to earn the equivalent of their first-year sheet metal apprentice training (224 hours). Upon discharge from service, these graduates may choose to enter any of the 150-plus SMART apprenticeship programs in the United States and be provided direct entry and advanced placement as a second-year sheet metal apprentice, including a high probability of obtaining second-year apprentice wages and benefits.

Special guests included dignitaries from the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) and the International Training Institute (ITI), which together with the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA), created the program in collaboration with SMART Local 66, SMACNA Western Washington, Western Washington Sheet Metal JATC and Helmets to Hardhats. James Page, administrator of the ITI, the education arm of the unionized sheet metal industry; Rob Biederman, SMART Capital; and Tom Montgomery, vice president of SMACNA Western Washington were in attendance.

Launched in August 2018, the SMART Heroes Program was established to provide free sheet metal industry training to enlisted U.S. Military men and women who plan to enter the civilian life within the year, thereby assisting in a successful transition into the civilian workforce. Adjacent to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, the Western Washington Sheet Metal JATC seemed the ideal host for the inaugural SMART Heroes class.

For additional information on SMART Heroes, visit or call the International Training Institute at 703-739-7200.